"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BLW: an update

We have been BLWing for a few weeks now, so I thought I'd update on Max's progress. I haven't felt the need to update until now because not a lot has changed. He's still in the Playing With Food stage. I think we'll be here for awhile.

We've introduced four foods and Max is definitely picking some faves. Avocado? Not so much. Just a lot of mashing, and when it accidentally gets into his mouth, there's a lot of spitting and Yuck Faces. Maybe he'll be into guacamole like Evan. Food #2 was Sweet Potato. He likes this, but still plays more than eats.
There is spitting, to be sure. This is what he does when he gets a chunk in his mouth. It's a way better anti-choking method than gagging, in my opinion, and way cuter in pictures:

We've also introduced super-ripe pears. He really likes these. They're juicy and sweet, so he gets a good pay-off from just licking and sucking on the pear sticks, and they're easy because I don't have to cook them....soft enough to mash with his gums but won't disintegrate in his little fists. A surprising addition to Max's menu this week was broccoli. He LOVES broccoli. I don't know if it's because the texture is so different from everything else he's eaten...I think it kind of tickles his lips...or because he truly enjoys the taste (weirdo), but he chooses it over pears and sweet potato on his tray.
I'm really enjoying this process. It feels very slow and natural, which is great for this Nervous Mommy of a Food Allergic Kiddo. I don't feel pressure to feed him every day, although he eats "dinner" with us almost every night. We started out like helicopter parents, watching his every move. I think part of what motivated this hovering was interest, I didn't want to miss this huge milestone in his life, but it was also fear. I was paranoid that he would choke, and I thought that if I turned my back for a second he would be purple by the time I looked back. But.....those BLW mommies who came before me were right: He doesn't choke! He spits out any chunks that he doesn't want to gum.
We started to notice, though, that his interest in food was short-lived at each "mealtime." Our Happy to Play with a Bowl and Spoon baby was fussing to get out of his high chair before we had even sat down to eat. I posed the question to the BLW bulletin board and the mommies had me pegged as a helicopter immediately. They suggested that I play it cool. You know, don't act all interested. So I backed off. I put the food on his tray and turned away (halfway. One eye on him all the time, of course...still didn't want to miss a second.).
Tonight at dinner, he "ate" more than ever before. I'm interested to see if this is the new normal; is he going to start really eating? Or was tonight a fluke?
Lesson Learned:
Just one of many times in my life as a Mom of Boys that I'll have to feign disinterest:
"Oh, you're going to prom? With a date? Whatever. I don't care what her name is, or how you asked her, or what she said, or where you're taking her to dinner, or if you're Going Out or just going out, or how long you've liked her, or what she's like, or who her friends are, or if you Like her, Like her............"
Time to start perfecting my super sneaky sideways glance.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

captain planet

By some weird twist of environmental irony, Wednesdays are unusually windy around here, it seems. It's ironic because Wednesday is also Recycling Day, which means that all those papers, cardboard boxes, and empty bottles that had been gallantly rescued from the landfill-destined trash bins end up blowing all over the neighborhood. All those good intentions billowing down the street, getting tangled in branches, and landing in sewage drains.

While we were playing outside on this windy, windy Wednesday, Evan noticed some of the neighbor's recycling blowing around his yard. My little eco-defender started chasing after it. Every time he got close to it, it blew away. It was like an old Charlie Chaplin comedy (I'm guessing; I've never actually seen any Charlie Chaplin...shows?...film reels?....whatever)....but you know what I'm talking about...the guy bends down to pick up his hat and accidentally kicks it away from his hand. So he steps forward to get it and kicks it again. That's what this looked like. It was really a funny little thing to watch, and I thought it was a game appreciated by all.

Until Evan had chased this piece of paper a lawn and a half away from me. He turned around to look back at me and I could just barely make out some tears streaming down his face. I started running towards him and he started ambling slowly back to me, slumped shoulders, sobbing, and muttering something I couldn't yet hear.

"Baby, what? What's the matter?"
[sob] "I was jus' trying to get that trash."
"I know you were, sweetie. And that wind kept blowing it away."
[sniff] "I di'n't WANT that wind to blow that trash!"
"I know hon, but I can't tell the wind to stop blowing the trash away."
[SNIFF] "But I jus' want that recycling man to come pick up this trash Right Now."
"I do, too, Ev, but I can't tell the recycling man to come right now. He's busy picking up other peoples' recycling."
"Yes you CAN tell him to come right now."
"I can't. I'm not the boss of him."
[stunned silence]
[I guess he thought I was the boss of everyone?]
"You can go pick up the trash, then?"
"Sure, babe. I'll go pick up the trash."

And I'm sure any neighbor who happened to glance out their window right then had a good ol' laugh at the crazy lady chasing the trash down the street while her three-year old watched, sobbing, from the neighbor's lawn.

Lesson Learned:
I must be doing something right in instilling Respect The Planet Values if litter inspires such strong feelings in my little boy. Either that or he was just really overtired.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

instant karma's gonna getcha

So..................remember a few weeks ago I went to the grocery store and was shocked to learn that I no longer fall into the Gets Carded at the Grocery Store category?

Well, guess who got carded at the grocery store today?!

And guess who left her driver's license in the car?

And guess who left the grocery store with diapers, allergen-free "Chewy Bars," and avocados, but No Sam Adams Summer Brew?


Lesson Learned:
So does this mean my Mom Haircut has successfully grown itself out?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

love your mother

I had a really great art project to do with Evan this morning in honor of Earth Day. He flat out refused to participate. Could have had something to do with the fact that Daddy was home this morning, so the only thing on Evan's agenda was: Play Chase Around the House with Daddy. Chase with Daddy always wins.

But here's the idea, in case there are any Earth-lovin' kids out there who CAN be talked into doing a fun art project:

Tie Dye Earth
(idea stolen from one of the brilliant kindergarten teachers I taught with in my former life)

Give your kiddo one round coffee filter and a blue and green marker. Make sure they're washable markers. Color the whole coffee filter in blue and green.....the more color the better. Spray the coffee filter with a spray bottle filled with water and watch as the colors blend together in a really cool tie-dye effect. When it dries, it'll look just like an abstract Earth.

I sure wish I had a tie-dye earth picture to post here.

We have done this project before for different holidays, just by switching up the color markers we use: color the filter with red and pink markers and cut a heart shape out for Valentine's Day. Use pastel markers to cut flowers out of for mother's day cards, etc. Next time he participates, I'll have my camera ready.

Lesson Learned:
So the project was a no-go. We'll celebrate the Earth by playing outside after naps today instead. And then: Breakfast for Dinner! (Um. Just because I could really go for some blueberry pancakes.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Evan!

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but somehow, I blinked and my baby turned THREE years old. In honor of this momentous day, I think I'll take a moment to share some of my favorite things about my favorite Three Year Old.

In no particular order:

His hair. From the moment he was born, Evan has had conversation-worthy hair. The nurses spiked his jet-black 'do into a mohawk during his first nursery visit and it remained 'hawked until he was about three months old. And then.....the curls. My god, the curls.

His sweetness. Evan is the most loving and affectionate kid. When he needs a cuddle, he says, "Mommy, let's cuggle," and climbs into my lap. When Max wakes up from a nap, Evan is the first one to give him wake-up kisses, while he greets him with a, "Hi, boo boo boy!"

(Here he is having some cuggle time with his Uncle Matt. Notice the hair curling. How cute is that?)

His sense of humor. This kid is funny. I think all three-year olds are pretty wacky, but Evan seems to know how really *use* humor.

His shyness. Evan's social confidence is building, but he still tends to be shy when in a new environment or around a lot of people. I love that he stays close by my side, looking for reassurance from me while scoping out the new scene. I love how, once he ventures off, he looks back at me and smiles, as if to say, "Look at me, Mom!" and "I'm so brave!" and "You don't have to worry about me!"...and even though I am looking, and know how brave he is, and I'm not worried, I love that I also know he'll be cautious and thoughtful about his decisions.

His crooked smile. You know how that very first smile you catch on film feels like a miracle because it's so fleeting and unpredictable? And then your baby gets older and the smiles become easier to photograph because they become easy to provoke. And then your baby turns into a toddler and you can say, "Smile for the camera honey!" and they do! And then after a while your toddler becomes a preschooler and you say, "Smile for the camera honey!" and, for some reason, they don't. That's where we are right now. You remember. So when I see those little crooked smiles, or the big toothy grins, or the wide-open-mouthed hearty laughs, I try to remember to take a mental picture. They're easy to come by, but tough to capture.

His stubbornness. I know what you're thinking: You're thinking "That's not your favorite part about him," because you remember the monster truck shirt fiasco. And you're right...but it really is *one* of my favorite things about him. He's not the kind of kid that gets talked into doing things. He'll do/wear/eat/play with it when he wants to. And that's frustrating, when you're the one trying to get him to do/wear/or eat it Now. But I sure hope his stubbornness sticks with him so that when the other kids are doing/wearing/or eating something they shouldn't be, Evan won't mindlessly follow along. He doesn't need to be perfect, but if he's going to make a bad decision, I want it to at least be HIS decision.

They're not brown. They're not green. They are big, and bright, and brilliant. Strangers have called them "soulful." They are deep, and thoughtful, and sometimes betray just a hint of mischeif. I am in love with Evan's gorgeous eyes.

Evan's first real word was "backhoe."

Evan's favorite goodnight song is "Blackbird."

I love that he loves books.

Every night before I kiss him goodnight, we have to talk about what everyone is going to dream about. If he's in a truck mood, we have to designate a particular truck for each member of our extended family to dream about. And every night, it's the same truck for each person. If I forget and say that "Pop can dream about a cement mixer." Evan laughs and says, "No mommy! Pop dreams about the police car! Aunt Kelly dreams about the cement mixer!" Or if we're into dinosaurs on a particular night, everyone gets a dinosaur. And I better not forget that Daddy dreams about the trachodon.

I love the way he twists his waist a little too much when he runs, leaving his elbows struggling to keep up.

I love how he looks so grown up when he wears a baseball cap.

But still looks like such a little boy when he sleeps.
I love watching him grow and getting to know him as he develops his little personality. I can't believe it's already been three years....but in some ways, I can't believe it's ONLY been three years. I feel like I've known him forever.

Lesson Learned:
Any way you look at it, they've been the best three years of my life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

BLW: The Beginning

A while back, I posted about my interest in an approach to food introduction called Baby-Led Weaning. I was totally committed to the plan, but was going to wait until after Max's 6-month check-up to start. I wanted to run it by his pediatrician (I really trust and respect her opinions, and just wanted an official Green Light) and really, I wanted to take this whole food thing slowly.
But Max has been showing signs of readiness to eat for weeks now (he's constantly grabbing at our food and watching our every move while we eat) and yesterday, he sat up unassisted long enough for me to run and get my iPhone.

Not to mention, tonight we had chicken tacos. Which, in our house, means AVOCADOS. Which just happen to be in season and super delicious right now. And our avocados were perfectly ripe: soft without being mush. The PERFECT first food for Baby-Led Weaning.

So to begin, I put a little schmear of avocado on my finger for him to taste. To let him know what was coming....

Then we put a slice of avocado on his tray. (This is the big difference between traditional "solids" introduction and BLW. Ordinarily, we would have mashed the avocado up and added enough liquid--breastmilk in our case--to let him slurp it off a spoon.) He eyed it for a split second before diving right in.....

...and then he wanted to go in for a closer look.......

....and then he took it upon himself to mash it up.

And smear it around his tray. (And, if you'll notice the chunk next to his ear, on his face.)

And then finally, after getting a good feel for the mush, he made contact with the mouth. And LOVED it!

By the time the avocado reached his mouth, he had done a really good job at mashing it up. I wasn't at all nervous about the risk of choking or gagging, like I thought I might be. He did, once, get a pretty good chunk in there, but instinctively tongued it out of his mouth almost instantly. It was such a normal and natural way to introduce food....I love it! We're going to continue to be pretty conservative about food introduction, given our new family history of food allergies, but I'm super excited to keep this up.

Lesson Learned:

I'll consider this to be Exhibit B in the case for my two boys being polar opposites. And I am LOVING getting to know each of my two little people.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

eggless easter

I, for one, am a sucker for Holiday Traditions. And I, for one, think that the way I grew up celebrating holidays is the right way. Luckily, my husband grew up with many of the same traditions I did, and the ones he didn't grow up with (doesn't Santa bring new jammies to all kids on Christmas Eve?), are pretty easy to incorporate into our New Family Traditions. But a lot of Holiday Traditions in my family are about the food and treats, which means that there needs to be some tweaking done in order to preserve the tradition, while preventing allergic reactions in my Food Allergic kiddo.

For example:

In our house, Santa drinks soy milk with his vegan christmas cookies.

On Valentine's Day, we make our own chocolate hearts by melting dairy-free chocolate chips and pouring them into a candy mold rather than buying the foil-wrapped hearts.

On Thanksgiving, we eat apple pie (although I hear there are vegan pumpkin pie recipes out there....I just haven't tried working with silken tofu yet).
And on Halloween, we put all of that unsafe Halloween candy by the front door and while we're sleeping, the Great Pumpkin comes and trades it for a new toy.

It's been pretty easy to make these changes. And, because Evan is still in the process of creating memories...not quite recalling memories of Holidays past...this is the way it always has been and will be. Maybe his kids, too, will get a visit from the Great Pumpkin...allergies or not.

A tradition that I've come to love in the past two years, is our Easter Egg Tradition. We really only celebrated Easter with Evan for the first time last year. The previous year, when he was just one-year old, I had bought a few things for his Easter basket (but had forgotten to get the actual basket). On Easter morning, I realized that they were still hidden in the back of the closet (because I, somehow, thought that my one-year-old baby might stumble onto the Easter stash and the whole Easter Bunny thing would be blown forever). I told my husband to "Stall him!" while I ran ahead and put the goodies (Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Eggs for us and a stuffed bunny rabbit and bubbles for Evan) on the coffee table. We didn't even have any plastic eggs to hide. When he saw the mish-mash of stuff on the table, he sort of looked at everything and then made the sign for "Eat Breakfast."

Last year, though, was our first Easter post-allergy diagnosis. No milk, no peanuts, no eggs meant: no chocolate bunnies, no Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Eggs.....and no dyeing Easter eggs?! But when I think back to Easter as a kid, I can still smell the vinegar! I can still recall, in perfectly vivid detail, fighting with my siblings over who would get to use which color dye first. I remember trying to write my name with white crayon on the egg before dyeing it, and being annoyed when I had to use the RoseArt crayon instead of the Crayola, which worked way better. I still remember the competition we would have every year to see who could make the ugliest egg. After making all of our pretty eggs, we would dip our last egg into every color. We called them "Army Eggs," because they all ended up an unattractive army green color (no offense to our service men and women intended). Isn't that what Easter is all about?!

I wasn't about to let my kid miss out on all of those cherished memories. So we started our own eggless tradition. We paint! And it's messy and fun and wonderful. And, if at this time next year we DO have eggs back and we CAN dye them....we probably will. But we will definitely get out our paintbrushes...

Egg Artists from Left: Max, mommy, Evan, daddy. I painted Max's hand blue and let him grab his egg. What you see is his "handprint." Evan preferred the paintbrush technique. When he was finished, he barely had a smear of paint on him anywhere. Neatest. Almost-Three-Year-Old. Ever.

Lesson Learned:

Sometimes the best family traditions are the traditions you started as a New Family.

big boys DON'T cry!

Friday: Night #3

This is, unbelievably, the Final Chapter in the Max: Crying it Out Saga.

There was no crying tonight! None! I nursed him and rocked him while humming our song. He nuzzled into my neck and gave me, what is affectionately referred to around these parts as Tightest Hug. I laid him in his crib, gave a few kisses to my favorite fat cheeks, and walked away. He was an active participant in the process, watching me until the door closed, but did not make a peep. Just curled up onto his side and let his eyelids get heavy.

He did wake up at 9:15 and let out a few yelps, then again at 9:45 and whined and fussed until about 10. He was up again in the middle of the night, between feeding times, to roll around, talk to his snuggle doggie (yes, I know about the no blankets/toys in crib policy, and Yes, Snuggle Doggie is both a blanket AND a toy, but Max is a cuddler and leaving it in the crib was a Mommy Judgment Call), and ultimately whine himself to sleep. But I am Officially Calling this game: Sleep Training Baby #2 is Over.

Lesson Learned:
When it comes to helping your baby learn to sleep, the old (weird) adage: "No guts, no glory" prevails. It's not easy, and it is not the answer for every baby or every parent, but if you find that you have entered the Point of Sleepless Desperation: It may be time to work up the guts to let your baby cry....the glory of a good night's sleep is priceless.

Friday, April 2, 2010

cry a little less, baby

Thursday: Night #2

O...M...G! Listen to this:
After 13 minutes of fussing, whining, staring at the video monitor camera, Max rolled over onto his side, balled his little fists up under his chin, and fell asleep. For the first time in WEEKS, he slept through his 9:45 wake up. He woke up at 10:15, let out a few I'm Still All Alone In Here! yelps, but went right back to sleep.

11:15--woke up, ate, went down without a fuss.
3:35--woke up, ate, went down without a fuss.
6:30--up for the day.

Can you believe it?

Lesson Learned:
I feel human again!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

so cry, cry baby

I didn't think I'd be writing this post about my laid-back, easy-go-lucky, fat and happy Baby #2. My husband knew it was an inevitability, but I was in denial.....or maybe overly optimistic is a better way to put it. This post will be my first in a, hopefully short, series of Sleep Training Posts. I don't like the term "sleep training," but I really don't want to call it what it is: I Let My Baby Cry Himself To Sleep. So here goes, but first, a little background.

Evan was a...."high maintenance" baby from the start--in all areas, really, but especially with sleeping. He was a gorgeous, happy baby, with a jet-black mohawk and an impish crooked grin. And he had me completely and totally wrapped around his tiny, but ridiculously long, fingers. I held that kid all day long. I did it because it was easier (he slept so snugly in my arms) but also because I wanted....no Needed! to. I was planning on returning to work after four months of leave and that countdown clock to Leaving My Baby started ticking the very second I first laid eyes on him. I thought I had to get all of my holds in while I could...so we could SuperBond and he wouldn't forget about me when I went back to work. Well, we did SuperBond. We were so SuperBonded, in fact, that it wasn't long before I was the only person who could soothe him....day or night. And because of this, the thought of dropping him off at daycare, where no one would have the time to rock him to sleep while gently stroking his forehead and humming John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy," made me sick to my stomach.

So I didn't go back to work. But in the process of bonding and unexpectedly ending my career, I had created a monster. For naps, I'd put him down in his co-sleeper, or crib, or on my bed, or wherever, and when he woke up after 10 or 15 minutes, I would just pick him up and hold him while he finished his nap. At night, we co-slept because it worked (we all got some sleep) and because I'm pro-co-sleeping anyway; it didn't take but a whimper on his first night home to convince me to bring him into our bed. Co-sleeping, in theory, would have been fine, but the kid needed me to be lying right next to him in order to sleep....which meant that his 8pm bedtime became my 8pm bedtime, which meant I didn't see my husband for months.

So at 10 months.....after Ten Loooonnnnnnggg Months, I decided that we were ready for Sleep Training (my husband had been ready for months). The first night, we did our bath and bedtime routine and I kissed him and walked out of his room. The crying began, quickly escalated into a hysterical screaming tantrum fit, and continued. For THREE Hours. Yes. THREE. HOURS. And when he finally did fall asleep, he fell asleep Sitting Up. I'm not kidding.

Then next night was the same thing. The third night was better, screamed for 30 minutes, then sat up, awake, for three hours before falling asleep. It got progressively "easier" and by a week and a half, it was over. We would do our bath and bedtime routine, give him a kiss and say goodnight. But getting to that Happy Goodnight Place was miserable. It was without a doubt, my low point as a parent....and that's saying something coming from a parent whose kid has ended up in the ER after an anaphylactic allergic reaction. The reaction was scary, but I didn't do it "to" him. The seemingly endless hysterics? I made that happen.

So fast forward to now. I have a 5.5 month old who, up until a few weeks ago was sleeping beautifully. Napping during the day on his own and sleeping well right next to me at night (I still stroke his forehead and sing Lennon, but it's more for me than him). Then, somehow, something happened. I promise I didn't change anything...he just stopped wanting to sleep with me. [sniff.] Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights, we Did Not Sleep. And everyone was miserable. It was very clear that it was time to take some drastic measures.....but it wasn't so long ago that Mr. Falls-Asleep-Sitting-Up was also telling us that it was Time, and the memory of that misery came rushing back to me in surround sound. Was I really ready to do it all over again? Three nights + two kids under three - sleep = Yes. I was ready. And I was pretty sure my little roly poly baby was, too.

Wednesday: Night #1
The stars aligned for a good night to begin sleep training tonight, so I did it anyway...a day before previously planned (seems like planning major parenting moments doesn't work for me). Max was tired, but not overtired, had a great nursing session, and was really restless while I tried to cuddle and rock him. So, I finished the final stanza of Imagine, put him in his bed, kissed a fat little cheek, said good night, and left.

I went straight to the video monitor. He cried, but it was irritated, What The Hell? crying, not hysterical, I'm Hyperventilating crying. It was difficult, but I could listen to it without bursting into tears myself (I can't say the same about Evan). He rolled around and stared straight into the video camera a few times......and then....after a mere SIXTEEN minutes (16!! 1-6!!!!), he fell asleep. Lying Down.

He woke up again at 9:45 (his typical, of late, first wake up time) and I let him fuss, squirm, whine for another 15 minutes. He fell asleep AGAIN until 11. At this point, it was time for him to eat and I didn't want to let him cry again, so I fed him and then brought him into our bed. He slept pretty well until 3, ate again, and slept great until 6am, when Evan decided it was Wake Up time for everyone. Ugh. Oh, well.

All in all, a Great First Night.

Lesson Learned:
Everyone will tell you, but you don't really get it until you see it with your own eyes, but every kid REALLY is different.